FAQs – How to access the collection

How can I re-use titles from your collection?

Ngā Taonga Reading Room Desk

There are over 7,000 items in our online catalogue available for you to view or listen to right now, and there are descriptions of thousands more that may be accessed on request. If you want to access or reuse items that are listed in the catalogue but not available to view directly online yet, the following FAQs will be helpful. 

Search Tips: Due to the way material is described you may need to expand your keyword searches. Search tips can be found here. Terminology and vocabulary changes over time so please consider other terms and language which may have been used for the item you are searching for. 

You can narrow your searches by format, years, genre etc.

How can I find and request collection material that may be available to access or re-use?

You can start by searching our online catalogue. In there, as well as the items available to view and listen to directly, you will discover descriptions of over 800,000 items, many of which are able to be used for media productions, by the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums), for iwi and cultural purposes and for educational use. Requests for copies for personal use, or where there is a personal connection, are assessed on a case-by-case basis and is dependent on the current capacity of the client services and technical services teams. Currently we are not able to accept requests for personal use – you can find out why here .

Once you find items you are interested in requesting click on the "Request information" button in the top right of each item’s page and then fill in the request form.

Please note that records for some materials in our Documentation and Artefacts collections are not yet discoverable online. These include wide-ranging collections of papers and manuscripts, ephemera, scrapbooks, artworks, props and costumes. Please contact us at for assistance in researching these collections.

Stills and posters can be searched for online.

If you wish us to do research on your behalf, there may be costs involved. Please see our pricing guide.

How much does it cost to obtain material?

Our price guide can be found here. Our prices reflect only the time it takes to supply request material.

We are able to charge on a cost recovery basis (so we don’t make a profit) because our funders cover our day-to-day operating costs, but access requests can involve several hours of work including preservation work (digital preservation; scanning and grading etc). We will advise you of likely costs and timeframes before proceeding.

Please note that Ngā Taonga does not license the re-use of footage, audio or other material in our collections. In some cases (for example: RNZ, the Len Lye Foundation), we facilitate the licensing on behalf of the rights holder. Where the copyright holder is known, Ngā Taonga will refer you directly to the copyright holder or licensor to negotiate the licensing where required.

What happens after my request is submitted?

We will respond to your enquiry as quickly as possible. However there are a number of things we need to consider once we receive your request that may affect how quickly we can get back to you with information on your request:

Condition of original source material and if digital preservation is required

As a professional archive we are bound by international archive standards and are mandated to supply the highest quality material possible, so technical work may be required before material can be released. 

Audio and moving image preservation are technical processes which are undertaken by our trained experts. The range of source material that we care for is varied and different techniques, equipment and expertise is required to bring items to a digital state. As such, some formats take less time than others. We will advise you of the technical status of each title requested. 

Many titles that we hold are reference or viewing copies only and we do not have master material. Many are reference copies that may be viewed at our Wellington offices only.

Rights – there may be multiple types of rights to consider and multiple rights holders

Ngā Taonga does not own its collection which means all necessary rights must be obtained before material can be released. These rights may rest with TVNZ, RNZ, Iwi, hapū and/or whānau (kaitiaki rights), copyright holders and/or depositors. We may need to refer you to certain rights holders directly in order to fulfil your request.

The rights for TVNZ-produced titles are held by TVNZ so you may be referred to their licensing agent , Getty Images, to arrange access.

These factors are also the reason not everything is available to view or listen to directly on our website. With our new Digital Strategy, we aim to clear more rights and have more material available to view or listen to.

I have information about the people, places or events in an item in your online catalogue. Who can I talk to about it?

We welcome information that adds to what we know and can share about items in our collection. If you have information, please feel free to contact us at

The following FAQ relate directly to our audio titles.

Why does getting a copy of a sound recording from Ngā Taonga cost more than buying a CD or MP3 from a shop?

Sound items held by the archive are not digitised, and we don't hold multiple copies of recordings waiting to be distributed to clients. Each request is dealt with individually, and CDs or MP3 copies are custom-edited for each client. Therefore, for every hour of audio requested there are on average four hours of behind-the-scenes work that go into making the archival recording available. This could involve:

  •  Finding the original media item 
  •  Researching the technical and intellectual property of the item 
  •  Processing and digitisation to correct professional resolution 
  •  Database entries 
  •  Digital archive maintenance and backup 
  •  Client supply – responding to the enquiry, making copies, etc.

Can I get a copy of a commercially released music recording?

While our Sound Collection does hold commercially-released sound recordings such as 78s, 45s, LPs and CDs, please be aware that we are often unable to provide copies of these. This is due to copyright laws protecting the rights of the original owners of the recording, as well as the artists, songwriters, composers and performers who created it. This applies to the bulk of RNZ Concert’s programmes.

There may be occasional exceptions to this, if the client can get clearance from rights holders, but these are rare. Please contact us for more information.

Can I get a copy of a recording featuring the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra?

In the case of musical recordings featuring the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and its predecessors, recordings cannot be supplied without the permission of the orchestra management (for commercial or broadcast use), or the signing of a declaration form supplied by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (for private listening or research use). For further details on this policy, please contact us.

Can I get a copy of a poetry reading, book reading or radio drama?

Creative works such as poetry, drama and novels have associated copyrights, which often prevent us from being able to supply copies of these recordings. Radio New Zealand (or its predecessors) may have had an agreement with the author or playwright to broadcast the work for a limited time, and any re-use or copying of the recording will require further clearance from the rights holder (or their estate if deceased). Please contact us for more information.

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Whakamahia ai mātou ngā pihikete ki te rapu māramatanga ki te āhua o tō whakamahi i tēnei paetukutuku, ki te whakapai hoki i tō whai wāhi mai. Ki te rapu kōrero anō pānuitia te kaupapahere tūmataiti.